Riparian Zone Retreat and population studies Alysha Mumau, Biology II, Period 1.
Niche of the Flying Squirrel Scientific name: Glaucomys sabrinus
Flying squirrels live among trees, making their homes above the ground. They often take over abandoned woodpecker cavities as well as old red squirrel or blue jay nests. The interior nests are preferred for winter living and bearing young, while the exterior nests are favored in the summer. Like the red squirrel, flying squirrels do not hibernate and are active all year long.
Flying squirrels eat insects, carrion, bird eggs, seeds, mushrooms, buds of aspen, alder and pussy willow.
Flying squirrels are brown and blend in with the trees. This is a form of camouflage. Flying squirrels are scavengers you could say, and they hunt by picking up their food and eating it. Sometimes though, they will collect it in their nests.
Flying squirrels have a soft, fluffy coat that is usually a bright shade of buff, cinnamon, black or yellowish brown. They possess large eyes and ears. The cartilaginous rods supporting the flying squirrel's gliding membranes arising from the elbow and knee in scaly tailed squirrels and from the wrist and ankle in Sciuridae species. All flying squirrels are arboreal (live in trees).
Factors which Affect Birth Rate of the Flying Squirrel
The mating period differs between every species and habitat.
Squirrels mate once to two times a year and a few species once every 18 months.
The length of the gestation period also differs between species and habitats.
The size of the litter differs based on species and habitat.
In most species the newborns are naked and blind requiring much care from the parents.
Factors Which Affect the Death Rate of Flying Squirrel
Squirrels can be eaten by carnivores and omnivores such as bobcats, owls, hawks and various other animals (most which are not local).
Between 12 and 15 years.
Ticks and fleas may harm the squirrel, as well as any other parasite that could be found on birds (lice, etc.).
Over-population means that there would be more squirrels than there would be food supply. A shortage of food supply means that the squirrels would die off which would affect the predators that consume them. An over-population of squirrels would cause a shortage in the insects that they eat, thus affect other organisms that eat those insects. It would be a never-ending chain of chaos.
Food Chain of Flying Squirrel The oak tree, a producer and autotroph, provides nuts (acorns) for the squirrel. The primary consumer, the flying squirrel, consumes the seeds produced by the oak thus helping the tree survive (so it can produce more seeds). The secondary consumer, the carnivorous hawk, eats the flying squirrel for survival. Then the tertiary consumer, the omnivorous human eats the hawk for food. A decomposer would consume and decompose the human and make soil for the tree to grow. Producer (Autotroph) Primary Consumer (Herbivore) Secondary Consumer (Carnivore) Tertiary Consumer ( Omnivore )
Food web of Flying Squirrel The hawk and the bobcat (both carnivores) eat each other, the cat, raccoon, fox, flying squirrel and human. The cat and the raccoon eat the flying squirrel and the autotroph. The fox, also an omnivore, eats the raccoon, cat, squirrel and autotrophs. The human eats the hawk, possibly the cat and raccoon, fox, bobcat, squirrel and autotrophs. The flying squirrel eats the autotroph and the autotroph is a producer. The decomposer eats all the organisms in this food web. Herbivore Autotroph Omnivore Omnivore Decomposer Carnivore Omnivore Carnivore Omnivore
Population Sampling Techniques
By measuring a large area of land and keeping a log, or even by tagging, a scientist can find out how large a possible population is.
By keeping track of what and how much food they eat, how many babies they produce, the size of the nest and by actually measure the flying squirrel are techniques of how to measure it for size.
Stream Quality Data & Analysis
The stream conditions that the graph represents are very high quality stream conditions. Only class I organisms live in high quality streams, and the number of class I organisms makes up approximately 83% of the number of organisms in the stream.
By having a high amount of organisms of a class I, the stream is represented as a good quality stream. Having a high amount of class III organisms symbolizes poor stream quality.
A flying squirrel eats a lot of insects and autotrophs. If the stream had poor quality, then there would be less producers and not enough of the insects that the squirrel could eat.
The flying squirrel as well as the ecosystem would suffer from a poor quality stream because then plants would not get their nutrients and thus many homes and food sources of other organisms would be destroyed.
No. of organisms in a good quality stream
Water Testing Data & Analysis
The different levels represent different abilities of organisms to live. If in a stream there were too many nitrates and phosphates, then the organisms would no be able to survive. In a marsh, if there were higher levels of everything, then the plant and animal life there would not survive. Different organisms are adapted to different environments.
The ideal level for nitrates at Powdermill was 0. If there were more nitrates, then overgrowth of plants would happen and organisms would be overtaken by autotrophs. The ideal level for oxygen at Powdermill was above 6. If the level was below, then there would be overgrowth and decomposers would use all the oxygen killing all other organisms. The ideal pH level for Powdermill was 6.5-7.5. If the pH was higher or lower, then the stream would be either too acidic or too alkalinic and the organisms living in the stream would die off. The ideal level for phosphates at Powdermill was 0. If there were higher levels of phosphates, then the turbidity would be extremely high and organisms would not be able to survive because clingers couldn’t cling and other organisms wouldn’t be able to see what they eat.
The flying squirrel would have a better chance of surviving if it’s home was near a stream because of the abundance of life (trees, insects, etc). If its home was near a marsh or a mine, there would not be much plant life or insects for it to feed on and the population would slowly die off.
If streams had higher temperatures of water, then the organisms that live in those streams would not be able to survive. If the streams had a high turbidity then the organisms would not be able to see or cling and they would not be able to eat or hide.
Streams may have problems with abandoned mine drainage. If it has a low pH, then it is extremely toxic to all life even at .02 ppm. The white precipitate kills all stream life. If the pH raises to above a pH of 3, then the precipitate clogs gills and interferes with predator-prey relationships. Also, the precipitate makes the rocks slippery so that macro invertebrates cannot cling to the rocks. A solution to this is to have limestone beds that the water can flow through to limit the acidity. Also having a collection of iron precipitates in a series of settling ponds with cattails providing a surface area to increase the collection will decrease problems.
Farm runoff is also a problem with streams. Chemicals/pesticides and animal waste could run off into the streams. A way to fix this problem is having a blockade or some kind of a fence or wall to keep the run off away from the stream. Also having more land and trees between the areas would help too.
Amounts of chemicals in local water sources
Soil Testing & Analysis
Plants need the correct amount of pH because it controls how well plants utilize the nutrients available in the soil. Nitrogen is essential to proper functioning of plant metabolism because it increases the protein content of food crops. Phosphorus is the most important nutrient in root formation. It enables plants to get off to an early growth and hasten maturity. Potash stimulates flowering and is needed in photosynthesis to make sugars.
Most soils are a pH of 4. Potash, Phosphorus and Nitrogen should all be evident in the soil.
Too much of a certain chemical can cause overgrowth of certain parts of plants and certain plants all together and that would throw off the current balance of the ecosystem destroying organisms.
Amounts of nutrients in soil
Positive and Negative Factors
The current stream, marsh & mine waters are a good environment for my organism. The flying squirrel lives in trees and the stream conditions are really good quality, meaning that the autotrophs are healthy. The marsh is a good quality marsh, so insects and other organisms live well there. The mine waters are not seeping into the stream so my organism is not very affected by them.
If soil levels were higher in any chemicals, then overgrowth would occur and my organism’s food supply and home(s) would get cut off.
Species richness and species diversity are both good for the economy because there is a wide range of species and they would eat different insects and plants keeping it in balance. Wastes from different sources of pollution and the destroying of rain forests upsets the balance of the ecosystem. Biologists are being asked to develop plans and manage remaining natural areas that still have much biodiversity. It is important for individuals to get involved in conservation and the best place to start is at home. Learn about the local environment and lend a hand. Keep the flying squirrels alive by not polluting streams and creating water sources with poor qualities because poor quality water sources destroy my organism’s homes and food sources.
I learned that there is an actual chemical balance in the water sources of the ecosystem. I also learned the consequences of disrupting that chemical balance and also what each of the chemicals provides for the ecosystem.
I found out more about the flying squirrel than I ever knew and I also thought that learning about the stream quality and the effects it has on the ecosystem were quite interesting as well.
How to lend a hand with the environment to help keep it clean and safe is something I would like to research further.
Cockrum, E. Lendell. "Flying Squirrel." Encyclopedia Americana . 2009. Grolier Online. 6 May 2009 <http://ea.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article?assetid=0160690-00>.
Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. "Squirrels, Woodchucks, and Chipmunks." The New Book of Knowledge® . 2009. Grolier Online. 6 May 2009 <http://nbk-ada.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article?assetid=a2041789-h>.